Apple unveiled three new iPhones yesterday in a bid to maintain its position in the premium smartphone segment, along with new features for its smartwatch that allow users to take their own electrocardiogram or detect a fall.
The California tech giant said it would begin selling its 5.8-inch iPhone XS and 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max later this month. Apple also announced a new iPhone XR with a 6.1-inch display. The three phones are updates to last year’s iPhone X (“10”), which marks the 10th anniversary of the smartphone – stretching the screen while keeping the overall handset size at or near that of previous models.
The new phones include more powerful processors and cameras, and a dual-SIM for its top-of-the-line devices.
The price of an iPhone XS starts from $1,649 for the 64GB version, while the iPhone XS Max’s pricing starts from $1,799 for the 64GB version. Both will be available in Singapore on Sept 21.
The iPhone XR will be priced starting from $1,229 for the 32GB version and starts selling on Oct 26. Pre-orders for iPhone XR start from Oct 19.
“We are going to take iPhone X to the next level,” chief executive Tim Cook said at a media event at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. The September event allows the company to unveil its latest offerings before the key holiday shopping season and comes with the global smartphone market largely saturated.
While the iPhone has made Apple the world’s most valuable company, worth more than $1 trillion, it has slipped to third place among smartphone makers as Chinese-based Huawei has grabbed the number two spot behind Samsung.
New Apple smartwatch features
Apple also introduced a fourth generation of Apple Watch with a major redesign – and a series of features designed to improve its performance as a medical and health device.
“Apple Watch has become an intelligent guardian for your health,” chief operating officer Jeff Williams said.
The smartwatches include an accelerometer and gyroscope, which are able to detect hard falls, and an electrical heart rate sensor that can take an electrocardiogram, described as a first for a wearable device.
“This is the first ECG product offered over the counter directly to consumers,” Williams said.
“Now you can take an ECG any time, anywhere, right from the wrist.”
The fall detection upgrade is seen as an important feature for elderly or disabled users.
“Identifying a fall may sound like a straightforward problem, but it requires a lot of data analysis,” Williams said.
If a person falls, and then is motionless, the watch will call emergency services, he added.
Moorhead said the health features for the new devices were notable.
“I can see kids buying one for their parents and grandparents,” he said.
“Apple opened the aperture again and I believe Series 4 will sell better than all previous models.”
The Apple Watch Series 4 (GPS) starts from $599 and Apple Watch Series 4 (GPS + Cellular) starts from $749, both featuring the updated design and new health capabilities. The Series 4 will be available in Singapore from Sept 21 with the cellular version exclusive with Singtel. Pre-orders of the smartwatch start on Friday Sept 14.
Research firm CB Insights said Apple is at a “crossroads” a decade after introducing the iPhone.
“Looking for the next wave, Apple is clearly expanding into augmented reality and wearables with the Apple Watch and AirPods wireless headphones,” the firm said.
“But the next ‘big one’ – a success and growth driver on the scale of the iPhone – has not yet been determined. Will it be augmented reality, auto, wearables? Or something else entirely?”
Apple’s event comes with the global smartphone market at near-peak saturation, and without a major catalyst for sales ahead of a likely rollout of 5G, or fifth generation, wireless networks, expected in 2019.
Research firm IDC expects worldwide smartphone shipments to decline 0.7 percent in 2018 to 1.455 billion units, with growth likely to resume as 5G devices become available.
Cook said Apple was nearing the two-billion mark for devices with its mobile operating system known as iOS.
“We are about to hit a major milestone. We are about to ship our two billionth iOS device,” he said.
“This is astonishing – iOS has changed the way we live.”